With scores of learners from coastal schools re-opening for the 2023 academic year, parents with children living with autism say they continue to face many struggles.
They complain about the lack of access to proper schools and the never-ending waiting lists that some children are subjected to every year.
Many autistic children have bleak prospects in life. Access to schools and a lack of resources continue to be major issues for them and their parents.
Over 80 students in the Eastern Cape have autism spectrum disorder. 13-year-old Akahlulwa Ngxinto has been sent from pillar to post in search of a school for the past five years. His 55-year-old grandmother, Lulama Fukuzela resorted to homeschooling him.
“Our ideal plea is that government can fix schools and make schools available for us to at least have our children in a good school. We feel like government has forgotten about us and our kids have been side-lined. It’s not easy at all,” says Fukuzela.
Civil rights organisation, Autism Matters says the lack of attention and support given to children living with autism is a violation of their constitutional rights.
“We need schools that are allocated in our districts and our communities like the mainstream schools and we feel that our children are not prioritised which is in accordance to the white paper six, children’s charter and the constitution of the country so I think that our leaders have forgotten about us,” says Autism Matters RSA, Nobathembu Qoshe.
The Department of Education in the province says plans are in place to build more schools and appoint specialists in the teaching and learning of children living with autism.
According to a recent study conducted by Health e-news, approximately 2% of South Africa’s population is affected by Autism. -Reporting by Lwando Nomoyi